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Faster-spreading and potentially deadlier variants of the coronavirus are now responsible for around 40 per cent of new cases in Ontario, a figure that experts say should be a warning to the entire country about the threat of a third wave that could outpace vaccinations.

A brief to be published today by the province’s COVID-19 science advisory table, viewed by The Globe and Mail, show cases of the original coronavirus have plummeted while variant cases have skyrocketed, all beneath the surface of a topline case count that has begun to creep up after plateauing at around 1,000 cases a day since mid-February.

“We now have two pandemics,” said Peter Juni, director of the science table and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Toronto. “The traditional pandemic, which is under control, and the new pandemic, which is not under control.”

Read more:

Steini Brown, Ontario’s COVID-19 pandemic prognosticator, pulls no punches

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In this file photo, people wait in line to get a COVID-19 test at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Nov. 23, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos OsorioCARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

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B.C. finds success by quarantining farm workers in hotels

As the 2021 growing season begins, farmers are navigating vastly different systems across the country for keeping their migrant workers safe.

Farms have 17 active COVID-19 outbreaks in Ontario, where employers are responsible for ensuring migrant workers quarantine on arrival.

In British Columbia, the provincial government is paying to place its seasonal farmworkers from other countries in hotels for the two-week isolation period. With 1,660 migrant workers already in B.C. this year, the program so far has identified 38 cases of COVID-19 – cases that were contained before the farmhands went into the community to work.

Top defence official says China is a threat to Canadian Arctic

China is a growing threat to Canadian interests in the Arctic because of its need for natural resources, a top Defence Department official warned.

In frank comments to the Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence, deputy minister Jody Thomas said yesterday that Beijing is turning its attention to the Northwest Passage as melting ice opens up Arctic sea lanes to shipping and resource exploitation, including fish, petroleum and critical minerals.

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PMO was aware of complaint against Vance in 2018, Trudeau says: Justin Trudeau said his office was aware in 2018 that a former military ombudsman told Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan about a complaint involving then-chief of the defence staff Jonathan Vance.

Also: Campbell Clark: Sajjan’s excuses highlight his failure on sexual harassment in the military

Bank of Canada’s low-interest-rate policy could further heat housing market, experts say: The Bank of Canada’s continued low-interest-rate policy risks sending home prices up further, economists say, adding to concerns that the market is overheated and debt levels will be unmanageable when rates do start to rise.

COVID-19 decimated the arts in Canada, and the worst may be yet to come: For 12 months, the COVID-19 lockdowns have hammered the arts – closing music venues, cinemas and theatres; cancelling concerts, plays and literary festivals; shuttering galleries, heritage sites and museums – all while putting musicians, actors and ticket-takers out of work.

Ottawa launches website to convey progress on First Nations drinking-water advisories: The federal government has created a new website in an attempt to be more transparent about its progress to remedy long-term drinking-water advisories in First Nations communities across the country, but is unable to say when all such advisories will be lifted.


Global markets advance: World stocks rose to their highest in just over a week on Thursday after a report on U.S. consumer prices calmed investor nerves about inflation and lifted the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a record close. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was off 0.21 per cent. France’s CAC 40 gained 0.13 per cent. Germany’s DAX slid 0.05 per cent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei ended up 0.60 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.65 per cent. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 79.48 US cents.


David Parkinson: “The Bank of Canada has set a high bar for the eventual raising of interest rates. But that doesn’t mean the central bank is equally reluctant about scaling back its quantitative easing program, even if it’s not yet willing to say so out loud.”

John Doyle: “So, thanks Meghan and Harry for reviving communal, must-see TV and sticking with old-fashioned storytelling, whether by design or accident. The story templates used are many.”


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Fixed mortgage rates have increased. But for home buyers willing to gamble, variables are getting cheaper

Major lenders have hiked fixed five-year mortgage rates over the past few weeks in response to rising government bond yields, but new home buyers willing to take a gamble may be tempted by another option: declining borrowing costs for variable mortgages.


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Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney shows off his medal after receiving his knighthood from the Queen at a Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony March 11, 1997.Adam Butler/Reuters

Paul McCartney is knighted

The last song on the final Beatles album ever recorded was about the Queen. “Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl,” Paul McCartney sang on Abbey Road, “but she doesn’t have a lot to say.” Indeed, the melodic former Beatle found out later just how tight-lipped the Queen could be when she knighted him at Buckingham Palace. “The Queen takes a sword,” McCartney recalled in an interview. “At this point you have to be very trusting. She can do anything with that sword. One shoulder, the other shoulder and then she says ‘Arise Sir Paul McCartney.’” Those four words from the monarch granted the Silly Love Songs singer admission to an exclusive brotherhood of knighted rock stars that included Bob Geldof and Cliff Richard. Subsequent sirs included Elton John, Mick Jagger, Ray Davies, Rod Stewart and Richard Starkey (better known as the second Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr). The group would make for quite a band if ever assembled. But even if the noble jam sessions never happen, at least McCartney could be among friends at Her Majesty’s garden parties. “No more lonely knights,” he just might sing. Brad Wheeler

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